Mary McLeod Bethune Lights the Way Even After Death

Mary McLeod Bethune was an extraordinary woman, an educator, and a civil rights leader. A child of former slaves, she grew from poverty and ignorance into a woman who changed her world. Most of all, she lights the way even after death. Early Years Mary was the fifteenth of seventeen children born to former slaves. Most of her siblings had been born into slavery. Born on a rice and cotton farm near Mayesville, South Carolina in 1875. Mary’s mother, Patsy, worked for her former master. Her father, Samuel McLeod, worked the farm (house pictured below). The family worked hard to buy the farm. They put Mary in the fields when she was five years old. By the time she was nine, she could pick two-hundred-fifty pounds of cotton per day. As a child, Mary would accompany her mother to deliver the laundry to the “white people.” One day, curious about the white children’s toys, she picked up a book. The white child snatched it away from her because she couldn’t read. She decided she would learn to read. Education A one-room black schoolhouse opened in Mayesville. Mary entered school at ten. She walked several miles each day (some say 4 […]